No Offense: On Editor’s Picks and Most Read Stories

Vahram Martirosyan

Writer, screenwriter

Much has been said about the fact that topping the list of most read articles in Armenian print media are various cheap sensational pieces.

The week of the Armenian Genocide centenary provided an opportunity to review the most read stories, but a comparison of a dozen news sites (at 12 pm on April 22, 2015) unearthed a more interesting situation: there are no overlaps among them. 

This might be the picture if a news outlet has political party affiliation or position (for example, Yerkir.am, iLur.am, 7or.am, and so on), but I observed the news sites News.am, Tert.am, Armtimes.com, Lragir.am, 1in.am, and Aravot.am, which are relatively neutral, have been operating for quite a long time, and have a large audience.

The so many different interests of different sites’ audiences show that nationwide news that shape the agenda are absent or rare (not counting the sensations of Kim Kardashian’s visit or the Pope’s speech), which testifies to the public being fractioned.

The content of the most read stores was not much of a surprise. One can find just about anything in them: “Tragic Accident: In Crazy Nightclub, Drunk Visitor Poured Bottle Full of Vodka on Dancer” (Pastinfo.am, 1in.am), “World’s Only White Male Rhino Placed Under 24-Hour Watch” [AM], “6 Ways to Use Lemons as Beautifying Method” [AM], “Brazil’s Tallest Man Marries 150cm-High Woman” (Tert.am)… but also serious analytical pieces. 

The Armenian Genocide and related issues were covered the most in the most heated stories of Armtimes.am, Lragir.am, and Aravot.am. Here I also want to mention Mediamax.am though it doesn’t have a “top list,” but it does have a special project “The Heroic Battle of Van” [AM], which is one of the best ways of reporting on serious issues. 

Another interesting situation is created when published side-by-side are the editor’s picks and the list of most read stories. 

For example, there are no overlaps between Haykakan Zhamanak‘s editor’s picks and the six most read stories… it’s true; in both cases, the stories are mostly on political topics. 

There is no overlap also between 1in.am’s editor’s “Do Not Miss” and “Most Read” — except that here the editor suggests not only three articles on the Armenian Genocide and one on domestic politics (out of five), but also the news “His Head on Her Face, His Knife at Her Breast: Norayr Tried to Kill His Ex-Wife for Not Giving the Phone to His 5-Year-Old Son” [AM]. Accordingly, there is harmony on the site: the reader has ensured that three of the seven hot topics are criminal chronicles. 

There is also no connection between Tert.am’s editor’s top 5 picks and the site’s most read articles, of which two of the 18 stories in the two-day list are related to the genocide, while the most viewed is the “Most Expensive Volvo in History Unveiled in Shanghai” [AM].

“Nothing betrays a person’s belonging to the lower classes as much as the ability to handle precious watches and cars,” says one of the characters in Victor Pelevin’s novel Generation P.

It is an unfortunate fact that having other editorial preferences, the bulk of prominent Armenian news sites continuously publishes stories that meet the demands of the “low classes,” while the percentage of common interests among the public’s “politically savvy” is very small.

Vahram Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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